A Step-by-step Guide To Planning Your Website
. All good questions. But the answer is simple. If you want to design and build a professional-looking website, destined to be successful, you must plan it.
Here are some good reasons to plan,
1) A look and feel that fits your message.
2) The site is both usable and accessible to visitors.
3) It's 'sticky' so visitors stay longer and come back.
4) It works properly with different browsers.
How many sites have you visited that violate one or more of the above? And these reasons all make sense don't they? So why don't site designers follow them? Because it takes discipline. And it takes longer. But it's worth it. A professional-looking site will appear as if by magic.
So, what do we need to plan?
1) What is the purpose of your website? - are you selling a product or service, providing valuable information, promoting your off-line business, creating a photo gallery, relationship building, telling the world your ideas or, perhaps, building a niche portal.
2) What content will you deliver? - after all, most people are searching for information. Your site should have a clear focus. Your content may be a salesletter, which sells your product, or it may be news and current information on a specific topic.
3) Who is your audience? - do you know who you are creating the site for? Who is your ideal visitor? Once you have a profile of your average user, everything you design and create caters for his needs, and that will make your site 'sticky'. He will stay longer and want to come visiting again.
4) Technology and testing - despite the recent advances in browsers and communications technology, different browsers can render a web page in different ways. If you don't test your site with different browsers, it could be broken and you don't know it. You also need to know how long it takes to download your 'cool' graphics across a slow speed connection. Internet surfers are an impatient bunch.
5) The site structure - how it is all going to 'hang' together? What pages do you need to build? How is the site navigation going to work so a visitor can find her way around the site intuitively? If you have ecommerce, how are you going to step the buyer through all of the pages needed to make the sale?
6) Designing the look and feel - what is the message, mood, feeling or experience you want to convey to the visitor? You will need to think about your message, colour scheme, typography and graphics. Users come for the content but a consistent look and feel gives a website credibility; the professional touch.
Once you have answered these questions, write them down. It doesn't have to be 'war and peace' but you do want to have clear objectives and goals, in writing, before you start any design or coding.
by: Terry Dunn
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